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Belize National Teachers Union Holds Annual Convention Print E-mail
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Thursday, 11 April 2013 00:00

Luke PalacioThe Belize National Teachers’ Union B.N.T.U held its forty third Annual Conventions on April 3rd and 4th, 2013 at the Jaguar Auditorium in the Nation’s Capital. With ten branches from around the country present, the Convention was held under the theme “B.N.T.U Overcoming, Challenges, Enhancing Opportunities in Education.”


During the first day of the Convention Mayor Simeon Lopez greeted the teachers and spoke about patriotism. Mayor Lopez also referred to the importance of civic pride and the need for it to be taught in schools.

Ambassador of the US, His Excellency Vinai K. Thummalapally was the key speaker for the event. Thummalapally’s message to the teachers was as follows: “In recent decades, revolutions in communications and information technology have broken down barriers that once kept countries and markets apart, creating a single, global economy that is more integrated and interconnected than ever before. Teachers and students can attend classes on the web, no matter what they wish to learn”.

The Ambassador of the US told the teachers of one website where some 3000 lessons in Math and basic science can freely be accessed. (www.khanacademy.org) Ambassador Thummalapally continued: “In this economy, companies can ship their jobs wherever there’s an internet connection and someone willing to do the work…When an estimated two-thirds of all new higher-paying jobs require advanced education or training, knowledge is the most valuable skill you want to acquire and sell”.

On the second day, the convention continued with the business meetings of the B.N.T.U; with an endorsement of officers of the B.N.T.U.  Branch members also had opportunities to learn more about what is being done for them at the National level.

A three person panel discussion on the ICJ was also held where various perspectives were made on the subject matter. Paul Morgan, Senior Director and five year past Chairman of Vision Inspired by the People took to a “no” at the platform to speak about the Pacific Settlement of Guatemala’s Claim to Belize. Also joining him on the panel was Dr. Gilda Lewis who has in the past served as an executive member of a B.N.T.U. Branch. Dr. Lewis commented that Guatemala’s claim to Belize has been one of ‘shifting sands’ and the issue will only be terminated if legal certainty is reached. According to Dr. Lewis, Guatemala claimed all of Belize in 1939, the Toledo District in 1983 and Toledo along with the Ranguna and Sapodilla Cayes in 1987.

Luke Palacio, the President of the B.N.T.U told the Guardian that the Convention is the Union’s highest authority where it is traditional to hold the Convention on the Wednesday and Thursday after the Easter Break.

Luke Palacio recently met with B.N.T.U. Branch members in Santa Elena, Cayo. He says such sensitization efforts with the teachers are ongoing.

“Our branches have quarterly meetings to discuss collective bargaining proposal number one with salary adjustments,” he said.

“Twenty three proposals still need to be negotiated…we have submitted counter proposals,” adding that he was to meet, along with other Union members, with the Prime Minister last Friday.

After Friday’s meeting with the Prime Minister, the B.N.T.U. leadership will be meeting with its Council of Management.